Only a day behind schedule, the Basler returned to South Pole on October 18.
It brought in 15 new people to help with station opening and left with two of our winterovers.
Brien had a huge smile on his face as he waited to board the plane. He and Francie are scheduled to fly on to Christchurch today and will hopefully be enjoying city life and warmer temperatures tonight.
The Basler also brought more freshies and a very important delivery: flu vaccine. We've just spent the last 8 months in isolation without any infectious diseases being passed around and haven't had any colds or cooties to share for a while. McMurdo during the summer is like a giant petri dish and there is always "the crud" making the rounds through the population. So each plane that arrives here with a load of coughing, sniffling passengers is like a plague ship descending upon a New World tribe. We always fear that once the summer people arrive, we'll all come down with colds.
Or worse, the flu. New Zealand is having a bad season of influenza and we all have to spend at least a couple of days in Christchurch on the way down to the ice. There have already been 22 confirmed cases of influenza A and B at McMurdo and an aggressive campaign to immunize as many people as possible is underway.
54 doses of southern hemisphere flu vaccine were hand carried down here on the Basler and within an hour of the plane's arrival, I set up a vaccination clinic in the Galley, as most everyone was milling around in there relaxing and eating fresh watermelon, honeydew and pineapple.
Neal was one of first in line. He eventually sat down in a chair for me so that I didn't have to reach overhead to give him his shot.
Robert the QuAD scientist, pretzel maker and all-around medical assistant helped out in administering the flu shots. He's really very good and actually I didn't feel a thing...I was just hamming it up for Sven the photographer.
Now our population is 67. Another Basler flight is scheduled for today and it looks like a beautiful day for flying down here.